What Is a Background Check - All You Need To Know

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what is a background check

Wondering what is a background check? Then this article is for you.

Background checks can reveal valuable information about people’s pasts and verify their authenticity.

In this article, I’ll help you understand what it is and help you answer some insightful questions about the topic.

What Is a Background Check?

A background check is any research done into someone’s past to verify their identity and learn about their criminal history, work history, educational background, and more.

It involves going through public records, which include court records, credit reports, sex offender registries, traffic records, and international records.

People often use it to research their new neighbors, verify the identities of potential tenants or job applicants, or check up on a potential date.

Basically, this check aims to reveal any hidden information about the individual.

Types of Background Checks

There are different types of background checks you can do to uncover information about a person’s past:

1. Civil Court Check

This type of check examines a person’s civil court history to discover any legal disputes or lawsuits filed against them in the past.

A civil court check also shows records of bankruptcies, court rulings and judgments, and legal claims made by or against the person of interest.

It helps employers gain valuable insights into an applicant’s level of legal responsibility and also predicts the chances of any lawsuits in the future if such a person is employed.

2. Criminal Record

A criminal record check examines a person’s court records to determine if they’ve been convicted of any crimes in the past.

The check shows the history of arrests or warrants, restraining orders, assault or harassment claims, sexual offenses, felonies, and prison sentences.

Through this check, you can easily peek into anybody’s past and see if they’re law-abiding citizens or convicted felons. In short, you can make better hiring decisions.

3. Credit Check

A credit check is important when hiring for sensitive positions that require financial integrity or assessing a person’s reliability. This check helps to discover a person’s level of financial responsibility.

It involves combing through available public records to know a person’s loans and repayment history, credit accounts and limits, past inquiries, mortgages, and bankruptcies.

It’s one of the pre-employment background checks in most companies.

4. Driving Records Check

A driving record check digs into a person’s driving history to uncover records of violations and other valuable information.

It examines records from the DMV and other government authorities to show license status, licensing authorities, traffic tickets and citations, accidents, and other traffic violations.

Services like Uber, Doordash, and others conduct driving record checks on potential employees to comply with federal guidelines and also ensure the safety of their customers and the general public.

Employment Background Check

Employment background checks are an important screening method used to verify all information included in a job applicant’s resume.

This helps curb the likelihood of hiring a candidate with a questionable past. Also, it helps reduce hiring unproductive candidates.

However, employment background checks must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

This FCRA is a federal law that governs hiring processes and protects candidates.

Also, this act mandates that employers need to disclose the likelihood of conducting a background check on their candidates while sending out job openings/offers. They also need to seek the candidate’s consent and written permission before carrying out a check.

Moreover, the employment background check provides an employer with the following information about the candidate:

  • Criminal history
  • Personal information
  • Employment history
  • Driving records
  • Credit check
  • License and certification check
  • Social media/online presence check
  • Drug testing.

What Does a Background Check Show?

A background check consists of in-depth information about a person, such as:

  • Personal information
  • Criminal records
  • Employment history
  • Education and certifications
  • Past residences
  • Credit history
  • Driving records
  • Social security verification
  • Sex offender registry
  • Civil and court records.

However, the information in your background check report solely depends on the service you use, the check’s purpose, and the information you’re trying to get about your target.

Keep in mind that free background check service providers often generate inaccurate and outdated information. Hence, to get more comprehensive and accurate reports, opt for a paid background check service with a good online reputation.

Here are top five background check websites:

1. BeenVerified


BeenVerified is one of the top background check websites that excels in criminal history and employment verification.

It’s very helpful for those interested in learning more about someone’s personal and professional background.

How to use it:

  • Register: Register for a BeenVerified account on the website.
  • Add Information: Enter the details you need to know about the subject of your investigation.
  • Search: The website searches multiple databases to generate an extensive report.
Pros Cons
User-Friendly Interface Access to some details may require a subscription.
Mobile App Availability Some users report occasional inaccuracies in the provided information.
Quick Search ResultsLimited international coverage

2. Intelius

Intelius Background Search

As one of the best background check websites, Intelius focuses on offering detailed information. It explores criminal and work histories, making it easy to look into anybody’s past anonymously.

The website is easy to use; enter the person’s information, and Intelius will quickly generate a comprehensive report.

How it works:

  • Enter your search query: Input the individual’s name and other necessary data.
  • Compilation of reports: Intelius compiles information from multiple sources to create a thorough background report.
  • Connection tool: With the Connections tool, you may investigate connections, including information from people outside your social network.
Extensive DataSubscription-oriented
User-FriendlyLimited, one-time use

3. TruthFinder


TruthFinder stands out when it comes to uncovering details from public records and social media profiles.

It’s very helpful for finding internet information sources and conducting social media searches.

TruthFinder’s limitless searches, thorough background checks, and updated data make it a dependable option for in-depth information.

How it works:

  • Simple inquiries: The program covers a few simple inquiries to help customers understand their search needs.
  • Effective Search: Using up-to-date data, a two-minute search yields precise results.
Unlimited phone and address searchesThere’s no free trial option
Unlimited background checksLimited support options
Uses updated information

4. PeopleFinders


PeopleFinders is an excellent background check website you can use for both personal and business purposes.

It provides trustworthy person searches for individuals and is an excellent resource for employers to do background checks on potential hires.

It only takes a few simple steps to utilize the user-friendly website: Enter the person’s details, select the search type, and get comprehensive results. 

About the website: 

  • Huge database: A staggering 43 billion public records are available with PeopleFinders.
  • Wide-ranging coverage: It gathers data from over 6,000 databases, guaranteeing a diverse range of information.
  • User-friendly search: For fast database searches, enter the target’s name, phone number, email address, or address.
Massive databaseOccasional outdated information
Extensive coverageLacks social media lookup tool
User-Friendly searchNo email address lookup
Quick results

5. InstantCheckMate

Instant Checkmate

InstantCheckMate is a must-have if you need to do in-depth background checks on individuals.

It offers thorough data on criminal records, contact details, and more.

Its power resides in exposing criminal records and providing a comprehensive picture of an individual’s past. However, it might not be as specific regarding information about jobs. While it offers a convenient and quick solution, users should consider the subscription fee.

How it works:

  • Enter the individual’s name and location.
  • The app provides contact details and criminal record information.
  • Selecting Open Report provides a thorough summary of all the data.
Comprehensive reportsThe subscription fee may deter occasional users
User-friendly interfaceLimited specialization for employment checks
Quick and instant resultsNot the most budget-friendly option

Wrap Up

So, now you know what is a background check! In conclusion, they’re crucial for various purposes, ensuring safety, reliability, and informed decision-making.

These checks look into criminal histories, work histories, and other pertinent information, whether they are conducted for employment, tenant screening, or personal relationships.

With their vast databases, websites like Intelius and PeopleFinders streamline the procedure and provide in-depth analysis. 

However, online background check websites aren’t without their limitations. For example, sometimes they offer inaccurate or outdated information depending on the records in their database. Also, key aspects like social media information may be missing.

Overall, many of these platforms aren’t FRCA-approved as Consumer Reporting Agencies. Therefore, their information can’t be used for tenancy or employment purposes.

Ultimately, when used correctly, background checks can help protect people from malicious individuals who claim to be what they’re not.


What shows up on a background check?

Information from a background check usually includes credit reports, work histories, criminal histories, educational verification, and other pertinent information about a person’s past.

What is a Level 3 background check?

A Level 3 background check is a detailed screening process that frequently involves fingerprints and database access from the FBI. It’s often necessary for positions involving security, public trust, or sensitive tasks and is more thorough than lower-level checks.

What causes a red flag on a background check?

Red flags in a background check can be caused by several things, such as financial difficulties, inconsistent information presented, work or educational history anomalies, or criminal convictions.

What are employers looking for in a background check?

The information that employers are likely to look for in a background check includes criminal records, driving records, credit history, education records, and employment records.

These records help to verify the applicant’s skills, education, history of crimes, and validity of other credentials.

To find out what is a background check and more, read the rest of this article.

More about the topics: people search sites